By Žikica Milošević
OK, maybe it’s too ambitious to say that the Stuttgart region rules over everything else, since the same can be said for many other regions as well, but the tame nature of this part of Germany has made the vine feel at home here. And the result of it was wine, wine parties and wine festivities. In that order…
THE ROMANS, WHO ELSE?!
As early as the 3rd century AD, Roman emperors planted vineyards all over the country, and wine continued to be made after the collapse of the empire that brought the vine to this part of the world. By the 16th century, Stuttgart was already one of the largest winegrowing communities in the Holy Roman Empire that encompassed the German nation too, that is, the Roman-German Empire, which is the name under which the Roman Empire was resurrected in the Middle Ages in the West. The slopes of the mountains, the closeness to the 45th parallel, and plenty of sunshine, equivalent to that in northern Hungary or Austria, where great wines are also produced, were crucial.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN TRUMP CARDS TODAY?
The main wines grown today in the Stuttgart region are the black varieties – Lemberger, Spatburgunder and Trollinger. Trollinger is inextricably linked to the region like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are linked to Stuttgart in, albeit, a different, motorized way. This fruity, bright red wine matures late and can be enjoyed when young and chilled.
Originally, this vine with large size grapes comes from South Tyrol and Trentino, where it goes by the name of Vernatsch. However, the name “Trollinger” seems to be a corrupted version of “Tyrolinger”. As for white wines, Riesling leads the region’s winemaking with outstanding wines made from it. Other varieties include Kerner, Silvaner and Muller Thurgau. Besides, Sauvignon Blanc is gaining in popularity with wineries, and therefore in importance with winemakers. The provincial capital Stuttgart is the only German city to own 17.5 hectares of municipal vineyards, spanning six different locations.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SOIL
The Stuttgart topography is unique in Germany. The city centre lies in a basin enclosed by green hills. Thanks to this unique location, vineyards can even be found downtown. To access the steep terraces, in the second half of the 19th century, growers had to build stairs and paths. More than 400 of these “Stäffele”, or steps, still exist today. Climbing them is equivalent to a good 20 km of walking, so the wine routes of this region are not for the weak!
On the historic hill known as Württemberg, one can enjoy one of the best views of the Stuttgart vineyards and the idyllic Neckar valley. In the 11th century, this was the location of the castle of the founder of the Württemberg House. In 1820, after the untimely death of his beloved wife, Grand Duchess Catherine of Russia, King William built a chapel there. At the foot of Württemberg in Stuttgart-Uhlbach, the Museum of Viticulture in Stuttgart invites visitors to discover two thousand years of viticultural history in a visit that encompasses all the senses. Original wine barrels, winemaking equipment, certificates, maps and other documents are on display. The “Viertel” (quarter litre) of wine at the museum’s Vinothek is the perfect way to round off this tour of history.
The Stuttgart Wine Trail was envisaged as a circular walk and you can join or leave a well-marked route at any point. It invites you to discover beautiful slopes, idyllic spots, picturesque vistas and interesting attractions to choose from trails through vineyards.
AND NOW – FESTIVITIES!
There are numerous wine festivals throughout the year, such as the Autumn Festival in Fellbach (early October), the Cellar Night in Weinstadt or the Weindorf Wine Festival in Stuttgart, one of the largest and best wine festivals in Germany. There is also Weindorf in Heilbronn, Herbstweinfest in Bönnigheim and Brackenheim, or Weinfest in the town of Lauffen-am-Neckar, which, you’ve guessed it, is conveniently tucked away on the banks of the Neckar River. In late August and mid-September, typically at Weindorf in Stuttgart, which becomes the capital of wine just like Munich becomes the capital of beer a week later, over 500 different wines from the Baden-Wurttemberg region can be tasted. To help wine drinkers to drink as much as possible, chefs serve salty Swiss specialities like “Kässpätzle” (cheesy noodles), “Maultaschen” (stuffed pasta) or potato noodles with sauerkraut. A typical feature of the Stuttgart wine region is the “Besenwirtschaften” or “Broom Taverns”, i.e. temporary wine taverns that open only twelve weeks a year. The name comes from a broom that hangs on the door and indicates that they are open for business. Only the wine of one particular winemaker is sold there. It is usually served in the traditional way, not in long-handled glasses but in the glasses with a handle that is typical of the Baden-Württemberg and Swabian regions. So, if you like beer, go to Germany to a beer festival. But if you like wine, then also go to Germany, to Swabia! There, far from the Mediterranean, where you might not have expected top quality wines and entertainment, the idyllic and cheerful atmosphere of southern Germany will enchant you.